Just before the start of Tuesday's simulated game at Oracle Park, Giants manager Gabe Kapler jogged out to the edge of the infield to have a conversation with Bill Miller, one of the two umpires calling the action. As Kapler approached, Miller reached into his pocket and grabbed a blue medical mask that he put on for the short conversation.
That was a change of pace from what some teams have seen from umpires thus far, and a few innings into the game, Miller and Doug Eddings took it a step further. Kapler brought them the masks that coaches and players have been wearing around camp for two weeks and both wore them the rest of the afternoon, with Eddings calling balls and strikes with a face covering underneath his protective equipment.
This is a move teams have been hoping to see once the season starts. Kapler said he was happy that both veteran umpires were agreeable to trying it out as they got their reps in.
The two umpires the Giants have for today’s sim game are wearing masks. Wilmer Flores (in background) is also wearing a mask while playing first base 👍🏼 pic.twitter.com/wxhlYDaQsN— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) July 14, 2020
"Bill and Doug, I give them a ton of credit because they're super humble and open, and so our training staff had a few extra very, very comfortable masks and those guys did a great job," Kapler said. "They were open to giving these masks a try and I think everybody on the field was proud of that."
The Giants brought in umpires this week to help them prepare for regular season games, and it was noticeable a day earlier when neither umpire wore masks, despite the fact that they get closer to the players than most others involved with games. There has been some concern within the game about home plate umpires leaning right behind catchers and breathing onto them for nine innings, although The Athletic reported Wednesday that MLB is planning to have home plate umpires wear shields underneath the masks they already wear as protection against foul balls.
The MLB policy is the same for players and umpires. Wearing masks is at their discretion. Wilmer Flores wore a mask when playing first base Tuesday and most Giants wear them during drills and in the dugout. Kapler and his coaches wear face coverings at just about all times.
"Our training staff does a tremendous job of asking our group to adhere to health and safety protocols," Kapler said. "Our players are doing a really good job of masking up. Some guys are wearing masks on the field as they're playing and we really appreciate that leadership."